Pete's Walks - Watlington Hill and Russell's Water (page 1 of 5)

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If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

I did this 15.3 mile circular walk on Saturday, 2nd April 2011. About a third of the walk was on paths that were new to me.

I set off from the car park on Watlington Hill (grid reference SU 709936) at 10am - there were a number of young people gathering in the car park for a hike, I think that's three times in a row that there's been some group or other starting a walk here when I've set off. I followed the attractive path downhill from the left side of the car park, alongside a large number of yew trees. I saw a Buzzard almost straight away, and soon was counting eight Red Kites in the skies overhead. At one point I came across a sign saying that an ancient track (also known as a  'hollow way'  or 'sunken way') had recently been cleared  by volunteers from Sonning Common Green Gym. I used the newly cleared track as I continued downhill. The path then ran between hedges to reach the end of a driveway and the Watlington-Nettlebed road. I turned right towards Watlington, then turned left when the Ridgeway crossed the road. I took advantage of the permissive path along the edge of a sheep pasture, across the hedge from the hard-surfaced farm drive that the national trail follows.

Start of the path from the car park on Watlington Hill

 

The path down Watlington Hill

 

The recently repaired ancient 'hollow way' - the trees along here are Yews

 

The permissive path parallel to the Ridgeway

 

A gate at the end of the sheep pasture was at a point where another right of way crosses the Ridgeway, and I turned left along the drive to Dame Alice Farm. The bridleway continued beyond the farm, running between hedgerows where there were numerous Wood Anemones and a few Primroses. As the bridleway rose uphill, back up the Chiltern escarpment, it was clear that it too was an old 'hollow way', worn down over hundreds of years so that there were high banks either side. I continued on uphill through trees to reach another farm drive, where I turned left, and then a minor road.

 

The drive to Dame Alice Farm

 

The bridleway just after Dame Alice Farm

 

This section of the bridleway is clearly another 'hollow way'

 

The bridleway continuing uphill

 

Across the road I continued down Coates Lane, heading for Coates Farm and then the village of Cookley Green. I spotted my first Wild Garlic of the year near the start of the lane, and further down it I came across my first Peacock butterfly of the year. When I reached the green in Cookley Green, I turned right along a lane for a quarter of a mile or so, then took a footpath going half-left into Church Wood (this section was a part of the Chiltern Way - a bridleway went left a few yards before the footpath started).

 

The start of Coates Lane

 

Coates Lane

 

Between Coates Farm and Cookley Green

 

Cookley Green

 

The path through Church Wood, part of the Chiltern Way

 

After maybe another quarter of a mile, I turned left onto another footpath, still in the wood but now contouring along the top of the Chiltern escarpment. I crossed a drive (going down to Swyncombe House), and shortly afterwards reached a clearing in the trees with a good view out to my right over Swyncombe towards the Oxfordshire Plain. I'd decided on doing this walk today because I wanted to see the views from this path again, but unfortunately the skies had got ever greyer as I'd driven to Oxfordshire this morning (it was quite sunny in Kensworth when I set out) and so the views were nowhere near their best. But I had the consolation of seeing my first Coltsfoot of the year here.

 

The start of the level path along the escarpment

 

Looking out over Swyncombe towards the Oxfordshire Plain

Part 2 of this walk

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